Revisiting the Arts and Industries Building

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"Rocket Row" along the west side of the Arts and Industries Building before the National Air and Space Museum was built, 1959. Accession 11-009, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Neg. no. 73-7185.

Rendering of the new United States National Museum, now the Arts and Industries Building, designed by Adolph Cluss and Rudolph Schulze. Record Unit 95, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Neg. no. SIA2011-1079.

Etching of the new United States National Museum, now the Arts and Industries Building, designed by Adolph Cluss and Rudolph Schulze. Record Unit 95, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Neg. no. SIA2011-1080.

United States National Museum (Arts and Industries Building) floor plan, Information Files, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

North façade of the exterior of the Arts and Industries Building. Record Unit 95, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Neg. no. SIA2012-1820.

Curators look on as three totem poles are installed in the Northwest Range near the Rotunda of the United States National Museum, now the Arts and Industries Building, by several laborers. Record Unit 95, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Neg. no. MNH-5792.

Arts and Industries Building, 1954. Record Unit 95, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Neg. no. SIA2012-2774.

The Water Transportation Hall, also known as "Boat Hall," located in the Northeast Range of the United States National Museum, now the Arts and Industries Building. Record Unit 95, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Neg. no. AI-18997.

Statue of Freedom, United States National Museum. Accession 12-492, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Neg. no. SIA2012-2764.

Histroric and Personal Relics Exhibit, United States National Museum. Accession 12-492, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Neg. no. SIA2012-2767.

Installation of Dakota Tepee, Arts and Industries Building, 1996. Accession 01-081, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Neg. no. SIA2011-2389.

Crowds flock to the Arts and Industries Building in the early 1950s after the Exhibits Modernization Program gave the history displays a new look. Record Unit 95, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Neg. no. MAH-48169.

Photocrome postcard of the north facade of the Arts and Industries Building, circa 1955. Accession T90126, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Neg. no. SIA2013-01060.

Smithsonian Institution Archives located on the second floor, northeast section, of the Arts and Industries Building. The stack range, storage, and cubicle work station area are shown here, 1979. Record Unit 95, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Neg. no. SIA2011-1487.

Workers prepare a hot air balloon to hang in the Rotunda of the Arts and Industries Building. The centerpiece of the Charles Eames exhibit "Photography and the City: The Evolution of an Art and a Science," which opened June 6, 1968, the balloon was used to illustrate the method used to take the first aerial photo in the United States. Accession 11-008, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Neg. no. OPA-1353-15.

The "1876: A Centennial Exhibition," a recreation of the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1876, in the Arts and Industries Building and opened May 10, 1976. Record Unit 95, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Neg. no. 77-3205.

Arts and Industries Building, 2014, by Mitch Toda.

 

On this day in 1879 ground was broken for the construction of the United States National Museum building, now known as the Arts and Industries Building.  Its concrete foundations were begun on April 29th and the brick-work of the walls on May 21st.  The main walls would be completed by November 1st.

Closed to the public since 2004, the Arts and Industries Building began undergoing a repair and restoration project to fix and upgrade the exterior of the building in 2009.  Unfortunately due to financial reasons, the building will not reopen at the end of 2014 as originally planned.  It was to have held an interim program called Smithsonian Innovation Space, but after a year of program planning and financial review, the Smithsonian concluded that the cost of rehabilitating the building for public use and operating it exceeded its available funding sources at this time.

The exterior of the building has been structurally stabilized and the Smithsonian will continue to explore options to reopen the building, but it will remain closed to the public until further notice. For more information about the history and renovation of the Arts and Industries Building please see the video below.

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